I don’t know about men, but most of the women that I know will tell you that we live in our heads. We typically have so many seemingly random thoughts running around, that if you were to take a peak… well let’s just say it might be a bit scary in there. We carry everything from what’s for dinner, did we take something out of the freezer, when does the dog go to the vet, did I take my medicine, when can I get to the gym, remember to pick up daughter for lessons, don’t forget son needs help with project, and oh yes, I am married and he needs me to do thus and such… and usually all of that takes place before the second cup of coffee.
Add to that the chatter and self talk that we’ve carried around with us for so many years. You know those voices, those condemning, hateful voices that work so well at reminding us just what a mess we are. And don’t forget the voices of past friends, relationships – professional and personal- that continue to remind us of other not so wonderful times in our lives.
It’s a wonder that we can think at all with all that running around in there. And then there are the huge thoughts. The one’s that we don’t, or can’t share, the ones that we can take only to God. We so need help sorting it all out. We need to seek His presence, His wisdom, His guidance, His word in our matters.
There are times when my brain is so scattered or when I am dealing with a problem that is so huge for me, that I can’t seem to get it all down. You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones that have you pacing the floor all night. Those are the times that I take pen to paper and sort it out.
There is something about writing it out that, for me, brings clarity. Perhaps it’s because my hand doesn’t move as fast as my brain, so it forces me to slow down and bring each thought forward one at a time. Bring them forward, and then write them down… one after another. I’m always amazed that at some point in writing out my problems, that I recognize how I really should be praying and what, or who, I should be praying for.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just journal my problems. I love being able to sit down and just write out my praises as well. Sometimes it’s confirmations about something that I’ve been praying about. Sometimes, it’s clarity of the Word. Sometimes, it’s a teaching that I want to remember. Sometimes it’s a verse for the day. Whatever it is, pen to paper has been a tremendous gift that I learned so many years ago when I would watch my mom write everything. After her death, my dad found years and years and years of journals; containing her most private and precious thoughts, concerns, fears and joys. Dad didn’t share them with us… they were not our story’s to know.
On Keeping a Journal:
A trip to your local bookstore will present you with so many choices for your journal ranging from a few dollars to more than a few dollars. I choose not to use a fancy journal. I find that most of the time I will write for pages and pages. I don’t want to be confined to a certain space for my thoughts. For me, I am my mother’s daughter. A trip to my local stationary store and a half dozen or so spiral notebooks and I’m good to go. I love it when it’s back to school shopping and they’re all on sale. It’s my favorite time of the year! Oh yes, and don’t forget a new pen. For me, a new pen on new paper… well they just go together. I also use colored pencils and different color highlighters throughout my writings.
I do write the date on the outside cover of my journal – a start and an end date I think are important if for some reason you want to go back for reference. When you get to that place that we all visit from time to time and you’re wondering if God really has deserted you… if He has in fact turned away from you. A browse through your old journals will show you just how faithful He is.
I would hope that I wouldn’t have to say this, but it might be necessary to find a secure place to keep your journal. Some folks see journals as containing secrets. And I guess in a way they do. If you are writing out some issues that involve someone in your home or someone that other’s in your home know… it might get tricky.
Once you’ve figured out what to use for your journal… you are now staring at a blank page. That can be intimidating. This is what I want you to do. Take your pen… make a huge X on the page. No… bigger than that! Now cross out that X. That’s it… scribble all over it. Now… rip that page out and throw it away. There… now it’s not so daunting! You’ve written in your journal. You’ve christened it. Now it’s time to go about the writing.
What to Journal:
Prayers of gratitude and thankfulness of my daily blessings
Reflections on your daily reading
Anxious, sad, lonely, fearful thoughts
Vision and dreams
Thoughts and pondering on your daily reading
Details of a problem that you are seeking guidance for
Answers to issues that you have struggled with
Your loving thoughts of your King
Revelations you’ve been receiving
The list is endless. The point it, just keep writing. You will begin to see clarity in the issues that have been so overwhelming. You’ll notice really how much God is involved in your life. Your eyes will be opened to what He is trying to show you, what He is trying to teach you. It’s a marvelous thing!!!
Prayer journaling is not something that will happen overnight. Like anything it does require discipline. But what you’ll find after a while is that the words will so easily flow as your mind slows down. I believe that it is in that slowing down that our hearts and minds are more open to hearing from God. The act of pen to paper forces us to sit and wonder and ponder and pray and commune… when we force ourselves to sit… just sit and be present wonderful things will begin to happen.
So grab your pen and that paper and get yourself started!